Our Guide to Paint Disposal

Paint cans lined up on a shelf in a shop

You might have just repainted the office or had a revamp of the kitchen, leaving you with used or nearly empty paint cans and no idea on how to properly dispose of them. Paint disposal can be tricky and, if not done carefully, could have damaging effects on you or the environment.

Why should you dispose of paint properly?

Due to the qualities of paint, it is often classed as hazardous waste. This means you need to be incredibly careful when disposing of any paint you might have. Paints can contain various chemicals, metals and solvents that have the potential to cause a great amount of damage to both people and the environment.

Your initial thought might be to pour your leftover paint down the drain or just throw it in the bin. However, this can be incredibly damaging. If you pour paint down the drain, you could release harmful odours into your plumbing system. This could also coat the inside of the pipes, clogging the drains. Throwing paint away with your general waste is dangerous too. Paint could contaminate the non-hazardous waste in your bin, meaning that your regular waste collector may not be able to properly dispose of your waste.

Lots of used spray paint cans ready for disposal
Vintage style paint cans on a shelf in a shop

How to dispose of your paint

There’s a variety of different types of paint, with each one having specific ways to dispose of it correctly. As with other hazardous waste items, it’s best to find a registered waste disposal company to safely remove any items. This is the best way to prevent damage to you and the environment.

Oil based paint

Oil based paints refer to any paints that contain either synthetic alkyds or natural oils like linseed oil. This type of paint is considered hazardous and must be disposed of correctly to ensure everyone’s safety. They can’t be poured down the sink or thrown in the bin.

Your best route is to find a licensed hazardous waste remover to take away your leftover paint and dispose of it correctly. We can provide trained hazardous waste carriers to pick up any paint on your site. Once it has been collected, we can dispose of it correctly, safely, and in line with all the relevant laws and legislation.

Water based paint

Water based paints, otherwise known as emulsion paints, are commonly used for indoor painting. These are made up of a pigment and binder, with water acting as a carrier. These types of paint are more popular than oil-based paints as they’re more environmentally friendly, dry quicker and emit fewer odours.

As long as water-based paints are completely dried up, they can be disposed of easily with general waste. It’s important that the paint is solid so that it doesn’t contaminate the other waste in your general waste as landfill sites do not allow liquid waste. It’s easy to dry out paint. You could add sawdust or paint hardener to do this. Once the paint is solid, put it in with your general waste and we can sort it correctly once we have collected your waste.

Spray paint

Spray paints are liquid paints that come in aerosol cans. These are an alternative to typical paints and come in a variety of textures and finishes. If the aerosol can is empty and clean, it can be recycled with your regular recycling. However, partially, or completely full aerosol cans must be separated from your recyclables and general waste as they are regarded as hazardous. The best way to deal with this is to arrange for a registered hazardous waste collector to collect and dispose of this for you.

How to store paint correctly?

If you’ve only used a small amount of paint, the better option might be to keep it safe in case you need to do some touch ups on your paint work later. Paints can be hard to store but if done right, they can last for a long time. Latex based paint can last up to 10 years with oil-based paints lasting up to 15 years.

The best thing to do is use plastic wrap across the top of the can. After you’ve done this, replace the lid and lightly tap the top of the lid to secure it on the can. Once you’ve done this, store your can upside down on a shelf in a room with a steady, moderate temperature.

Try recycling your paint

Another option is to recycle your paint. It’s worth asking friends or family if they’re planning any renovations as they can use the leftover paint you don’t want. There might be a scheme in your local area that redistributes paint to community groups or those who might need it. If your paint cans are empty and clean, you could also try upcycling them into a new piece of decoration for the home.

Contact us

Need help disposing of your business’ leftover paint? Contact our team today to learn more about our paint collection and recycling service.

We can improve your waste management and cut your costs.

Book a site survey today!

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